Action is the payoff: demonstrable proof of the mind. It is how we move ourselves ahead from one moment to the next. Initiating a process I call “wayfaring” as our mode of being in the world by means of taking one step after another. Getting ahead is our religion and our profession. It is not a product but a process as told in the playing, not the winning or losing.

The issue is always: What now? What next? What next after that? In other words, threads of engagement. By which we exercise our perceptive and active skills as joined by the judgments we make and the meanings we find in the process of advancing the flow of energy through our minds from perception to action.

My focus on action ends with a glimpse at sex as one act we all share in common. I have reviewed the route within the figurative black box sheltering each of our minds, from arousal, expectancy, and attention on to the formation of sensory impressions, recognition, categorization, to meaningful understanding.

Then I have traced the various routes that connect perception to action via reflexes, mimicry, habits, routines, prejudice, and orthodoxy, all of which bypass full conscious deliberation and awareness. Consciousness centers on the mediating faculty of mind I call “situated intelligence” that create the situations we face in their various mental dimensions such as I have listed throughout these posts. Those dimensions include understanding, imagination, emotion, biological values, ethical values, ideas, thoughts, the life force that drives us, and the many contributions of remembrance.

Consciousness answers three questions. Perception fields the question, “What’s happening?” Judgment fields, “What does that mean in my current situation?” Action gives our answer to, “What shall I do under these circumstances?”

These three stages of mental engagement also entail unconscious loops within the brain that shape, sharpen, and emphasize aspects of the mind’s ongoing engagement with the world for the sake of clear judgment in forming an appropriate response to the situation we find ourselves in at the moment. Each action we make leads on to the next moment, setting up the one after that.

Our situated intelligence forms what we think of as the durable “I/me” at the juncture of perception and action where our sequential rounds of engagement come to completion as staging areas for the cycles to follow—hopefully with increasing refinement.

The self is no independent observer of that flux; it is the ongoing flow of engagement itself, the inner wayfarer at the heart of our being active, alert, and alive.

In the following posts, my task becomes that of extending the inner portions of our loops through perception, judgment, and action beyond the figurative—yet functional—walls of the black boxes in which our minds are sheltered by the outer limits of the bodily membrane or skin that separates our inner personhood from the great world beyond.

In that outer world we find our way along the shores of a world ocean much as our one-celled ancestors swam in the primal, energy-rich seas of ancient Earth. We take what we need to live from that ocean, in trade for our waste. I divide that world ocean into the four great bays which we explore during our life travels: nature, culture, community, and family.

Those divisions of the world ocean conduct the waves we make by our outgoing gestures to far shores, where they reflect and return to us in flowing waveforms of energy representing four aspects or levels of the world’s response to our actions. Which we study from the perspective of our personhood and life experience, interpret, and transform into our next round of engagement.

The world ocean is the basis on which our consciousness is founded. We exist to interpret its messages as accurately as we can. So do we place ourselves in the situations that drive us forward. Consciousness is not ours alone. We share our interpretive abilities with the stimuli striking our senses from the ambient in which we live. We are creatures not merely of our brains, but of our home planet. We are Earthlings to the core.

On to the worlds of nature, culture, community, and family!

 

 

 

(Copyright © 2009)

 

I got the following comment from a friend in North Carolina the other day:

 

You write in your Blog of December 31 [A Sense of Space], “We take it for granted we can walk through woods without crashing into trees, pursue quarry across almost any kind of terrain without losing it, or cross busy city streets. . . .” You could have added, “or walk at all.” I watch people walk down West Beaufort Road, from my perch on the front porch, or from my scooter at the grocery store—there they go, putting one foot in front of the other without hesitation and without wondering about the complex machinery of muscles and brain coordination that make it possible, and I want to shout to them, “Become aware of yourself and the miracle of being able to walk at all, it is a gift from The Gods not to be taken for granted,” while I watch myself, as in a mirror, stumbling around, having to touch surfaces in order to remain standing, needing support by a cane and a companion for the short trip to the mailbox, the motor nerves misfiring at times.

          No, I don’t feel sorry for myself. I have learned to live with this condition, now in its 9th year. It is just that I have become very aware of the ease with which [most people] walk, and how.

 

Exactly so! We are aware from the center of our lives, and that center assumes the conditions within which we achieve consciousness—including injuries, personal frailties, and aging. It cannot be any other way.

 

Thank you, Friend, for sending that comment. It underscores how each of us has no choice but to be conscious in our own way. Which is likely to be different than how it was yesterday or ten years ago. Consciousness is fluid because our life situations never stop changing. There are too many variables involved. It takes effort and concentration just to try to keep up. Life is always challenging and hopefully exciting because its daily course runs from What now? to What next!

 

Consciousness exists in neither a perfect world that is the same for all nor in a vacuum. All of us live with special conditions that affect our outlooks on personal experience. For each one of us, consciousness is constrained as my consciousness in particular because it arises within this actual body as it lives out the details of its actual life.

 

I say that consciousness is situated in the circumstances bearing on that actual life here and now. Which involves an ever-changing mix of feelings, memories, acquired skills, actions, relationships, companions, expectations, goals, and all the variables affected by genetic makeup, family interactions, education, training, and a host of personal life experiences. As a consequence, consciousness is not a general property of being human, but is the specific attainment of a given person carrying on as best she or he can at a particular time and place under the limited selection that pertains out of all possible circumstances.

 

Consciousness, that is, has little to do with any supposedly “real” world. It is more a mental contraption that each of us assembles from the materials we are given in living our lives. And, as I have said, there is no airspace between the self and its consciousness—they are one and the same. I am my consciousness; my consciousness is me. All else is a matter of imagination and wishful thinking, which, too, are aspects of consciousness.

 

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